The season that wasn’t

Oy, I’m so far behind. We got some rain in the last 2 weeks, so grass and weeds are happy.  Check out this canary grass that was in the garden.

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canary grass. seems to be a species that indicates the presence of water. It was next to a spigot. This stuff can get to be like 7′ tall. 

 

It’s not the first and others have dropped seed :(. I cut the seedheads off of this one and brought it and a bunch of weeds from the fenceline that we share with the neighbors to the municipal compost bin last night. I spent a couple of hours mowing during mid-day, and I finished right when my neighborhood’s temperature peaked at 101. It hardly ever gets quite that hot here. The garden has been doing pretty okay with this heat wave, partly because I’ve been handwatering recent seedings and transplants.

Coming along… slowly

I think it was a bit less windy today, but around 8:15am it was still 43.5 degrees F outside. The strawberries are not liking this cold weather, which means that I’m having to throw out a whole lot of bad and/or soft berries :(. And the work has gotten ahead of me. I started working on the Chandler bed on Friday and I made it about 5 feet in an hour. The soil is so hard that it is nearly impossible and very painful to pull out all that mature grass :(.

I’m realizing that I’ve been really overwatering the small seedlings. The flowers have hardly any roots. 😦 On the flipside of that, past the area where I noticed a big leak in the Seascape/Sweet Ann bed the other night, we realized today that 1/4 of that bed (half of that row) is not receiving water because the gophers chewed all the way through the drip tape. Sad, small plants and sad, dry berries. I need to get out there with a watering can. And fertilizer. 😦 And another line of drip tape.

I have been trying to transplant my flowers, but I don’t know if any of the poppies (too late for them, anyhow) or Shasta daisies will survive. We shall see… I haven’t transplanted my dill yet, but I think it looks better after spending the weekend out of the direct sun on the bottom shelf in the greenhouse.

Today was Mother’s Day so I didn’t get as much done as I might have on a regular Sunday. T spent some time hanging out in the garden with me. Today he was really into eating pea leaves. I am struggling to teach him to hold the plant with one hand and pull the leaf off with the other! We went to the farm supply store to try to find a hose sprayer for the greenhouse. I also got an extra kneeling pad or two, and a kids’ garden rake for T. And more seedling trays!

Made my first sale

I’ve been keeping busy out there in the garden. I’m still working hard on the painstaking removal of old plant matter (and weeds and slugs) from last summer’s strawberry bed. Meanwhile, there are strawberries to pick and eat every time I go out there. I’ve done over 7 hours of work (over the last week or so, I think) and I have only made it about halfway down the bed. I don’t have time for this! I need to get my June-bearing bed cleaned up, and today I noticed that there are strawberries rotting in the 2016 summer strawberry bed.

Meanwhile, my seedlings are begging to be planted or potted up. I sold 2 sixpacks of Broccoli (Waltham 29 iirc) today! A woman drove over and took them home for her raised beds. In addition to my not having time, the beds that I wanted to use for greens. I have cabbage, dino kale – 4 sixpacks – and way-too-leggy red russian kale, plus some dill and a few zinnias for those beds. I also have marigolds and poppies. I need to get those poppies into the pea bed asap. I’ll have to hand-water first, though! I tried planting some sweet peas for flowers this spring and got zero plants. I need to just start them in the greenhouse.

Speaking of peas, we got our longest section of trellis moved from one of last fall’s pea beds this week. I set up the trellis this morning and tried to train the plants to the netting. By about 11 or 11:30, the plants were shutting down and stopped reaching. This evening it looked to me like the casual observer might think that I had, in fact, trained them. 🙂 There are still a lot of weeds, including volunteer tomatoes. Hopefully next winter will be a bit less rainy and I can remove my debris in a timely fashion.

I’ve been doing a lot of mowing and weedwhacking. I have uncovered most of the path that goes down the middle of the garden. Unfortunately there is a row’s worth of drip tubing stuck in some really tall grass on the west end. 😦 Tonight I realized that my planned new greens beds were immediately next to last summer’s greens beds, which I had only just mowed. I tried to pull the chopped up brassicas out and take them to the compost pile. Didn’t quite get to finish since it was getting very late…

We need to water soon, even though we had a few rainy days earlier this week. The ground has crusted over wherever it’s bare. Hoping to start more seeds real soon.

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Photo taken by my partner Z this evening. It shows me at the north end of the garden with the mower, which had likely stalled due to trying to eat too much grass at a time

I need help! and more time.

I’ve been spending 1-2 hours in the garden each day, usually in the evening, which puts a lot of domestic pressure on my husband. It’s so weird that I call him my husband now, because I fully intended to always call him my partner. Things are a bit more conservative here in Sonoma County, as compared to where we got married – in Oakland. Anyhow, he doesn’t really have any time or energy for the garden these days. This is frustrating, since taking down last fall’s pea trellis has been a lengthy process for me (sickled and cut grass back from the trellis a week or two ago, and today I pulled the stakes out, but the trellis is twist-tied on at the base, and some of the trellis past the last stake is really stuck in the grass). I need this trellis for this spring’s peas!!!

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Crappy photo taken at sunset of the part of the strawberry bed where I’ve been pulling dead leaves, runners, and fruit off and killing whatever slugs I can. Note red strawberry on plant on left. Some of them have cold damage, which I think is because I’ve pulled the weeds back a few inches from the strawberry plants and made room for cold air to enter and hang out in the bed.

 

Over the last 3-4 days I have spent (at least) 5.5 hours on pulling off dead/dying leaves and fruit and killing slugs and other bugs in the Seascape/Sweet Ann (2016) strawberry bed. I’m almost halfway down the bed. I really did not clean up the bed at the end of last year.

Also, I mowed 1.5 hours yesterday (around most strawberry beds, where new greens should be, around field edges, and a bit more of the mound that goes along the neighbors’ fence, which I spent about 2 hours on on Thurs or Fri). Mowing the mound last week was slow going because the plants were so tall and the bunch grasses were so thick and damp at their bases that the mower kept stalling. I want to plant perennials for foliage and filler up there. It’s over 200 feet (probably more like 280) and is over 6′ wide in some spots. The previous owner reportedly tried to plant bushes there, but they didn’t do well. The grass is always very happy there, and the curly dock, too.

Seedlings in greenhouse are doing well (no sign of lemon balm, only  1 onion germinated, not sure about the larkspur or the lavender or rosemary). The greens are ready to transplant. I guess I need to get some 4″ pots or something :/ 

Some rain is predicted for Monday and Tuesday. We have already received 60.05 inches of rain since October 1st. Our average annual rainfall is 36.28, so this is pretty catastrophic. Be glad you can’t smell my neighbors’ septic system, the vapors from which get blown into my garden. I have multiple chemical sensitivity, so the combination of their personal, laundry, and dish products (along with poop) really kicks my butt.

Meanwhile, there’s a gathering of an agricultural organization that I’ve paid to be a member of on Monday. It starts before my husband should be home from work (hopefully he can leave early), and my child, who I was hoping to bring with me, has a cough.

More rain is coming – are you serious?

We could get as much as an inch of rain on Friday and Saturday?! According to NOAA, on average we get 4 more inches in a rain year (which ends October 1st). We have already had 55.5 inches instead of the average 36. We’ve had enough. Please stop.

I realized that if I were to put a hoophouse over some garden beds so I could have dry beds in the spring, I’d have to dig some serious trenches to redirect water that would fall off the roof… that would almost be better for our 2nd garden, which is in a field that we can’t see from the house, and it’s a pretty wet walk to get out there in winter!

I got a new tool!

 

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Sonoma County-fabricated broadfork

I heard about a guy who was making broadforks, so I ordered one. He made it of the lightest material he could put it together with and have it not bend. We’ll see how it works- right now the soil in some spots is making sucking noises, since we got an inch and a half of rain this week (most of it in one day). I am hoping that the broadfork will help aerate the soil and keep us from using the chisel plow, which I think has caused too much damage to our soil.

I’m glad that I covered the old tomato bed with compost last weekend. It looks a lot better this way. And I tried planting peas. The ones that I planted in a trench have been popping up out of the soil a lot more frequently than the ones that I dug individual holes for. I was in a hurry at the end, what can I say?

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last year’s tomato bed. I planted 3/4 of it in peas this week
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a pea that popped up out of the soil. They tend to be getting a first root, so wish us luck with the reburied ones.

Also, the strawberry crowns arrived today. I put the new fridge thermometer into our 2nd fridge, which we bought at least thirdhand last fall, and it was 55. The temp has ranged from 50-60. I tried putting a couple of gallons of water in half-gallon jars into the fridge and it’s not helping. So maybe I will move them to our main fridge tomorrow. Boo for fridges having trouble working after they’re tipped on their sides. We and our frozen berries are lucky that the freezer works so well!

So much rain!

the garden between rain showers. The pumpkins will be going away in the next few days.
the garden between rain showers. The pumpkins will be going away in the next few days.

It’s really getting ridiculous- we’ve gotten almost 6 inches this month! So… okay, I’ll just clean the house and peel roma tomatoes (that part really didn’t take long except that I chose to vacuum instead of actually making a sauce so the tomatoes could go bad in the fridge).

I got out to the garden for 15 minutes that turned into a half hour. It’s wet. I picked leaves that were touching the ground off of several kale plants and pretty much got a bucket’s worth. I may have gone a bit too heavy on the fertilizer. We already knew that, based on what the raccoons did to that bed and others. I also picked a handful of peas :).

I went out on Thursday to pick strawberries. I did half of the east row and did not get a single edible/blemish-free berry.  I filled up the rest of the compost bucket with the stuff from the ground in that area and called it a day.

I went to water aerobics twice this week (and went swimming with T today). It’s so great to be back in the water and moving around. During the last 2 winters, I lifted weights 2-3 times and did water aerobics 2-3 times a week, which made me a fixture at the gym. I just don’t feel like I can stay out past 7 anymore and Z often doesn’t finish work much before 5, so it’s going to be hard to get there without bringing T to the totally germ-infested childcare room.

Fog has covered the top of the mountain that's visible from the garden
Can’t see the top of the local “mountain”

Getting ready for rain

I realized yesterday that my biggest priority in getting ready for this week’s rains was to cover the ground between the strawberry and tomato beds. There’s room enough for a whole bed there, although it’s nice to have a nice, wide path in which to throw bad fruit and not have to step on it while I’m picking other fruit. There were a lot of spots where the ground was bare and hard because the gophers had left mounds that had dried out in the sun. I am trying to limit opportunities for rain-caused erosion. Today I finished picking up the rest of the fruit and leaves off the ground there and put out 10 wagonloads of compost. It might be a bit heavy, but when the tomato plants are gone, I might be able to spread some of it at the edge of the bed where I apparently did a really good job of hoeing the weeds out.

Brown leaves visible on the ground
Behind these zinnias is the space between the tomatoes and the strawberries. Brown leaves are visible in this photo. They have all been picked up and composted.

The other thing that I did today was start a new compost pile. I had a big pile of corn stalks, leaves, husks, and bad ears from when I pulled out about half of the corn plants the other day, plus some other weeds and some 13 buckets (5 of them had bad strawberries and some tomatoes in them, and there were a lot of corn cobs and husks in the buckets from the house, lol). The compost pile is still like half the size it needs to be to compost properly. #goals While I was building the pile, T did some walking around the garden all by himself (with pokemon go on his dad’s phone, of course). Yay for exercise and his sense of accomplishment! Boo for screen time.

The amount of rain we’re expected to get in this week’s storms has been decreased, thankfully. I’m still trying to figure out how the fava bed can be prepared so I can plant into it- it was chisel plowed but not raked, iirc.

Z is putting a lot of pressure on me to get the pumpkins sold. I guess we need a marketing person, lol. People are really not willing to pay very much for pumpkins. And the stores charge WAY too little for them!

view from northwest corner of garden includes grass on the road around it!
Grass is visible on road around the garden (far right) after last week’s rains

 

Hello, blog

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No, I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve just been sick. Still. This cold is brutal, but at least it’s not the stomach bug that’s going around T’s school. Speaing of cold, it was 35 degrees last night, according to our wildlife camera, and we had our first rain today. Not a lot, just a few showers. A total of .15 inches, according to the weather folks.

I finished transplanting my old seedlings and got some more yesterday. Today I put a sixpack of collards and half of one of broccoli into the ground. Picked 5 ears of corn on my way out! Zak picked a lot of peppers – the padrons, I think, and the habaneros, and is trying to dehydrate them. He moved the habaneros out of the kitchen because the smell reminded him too much of getting burned from peppers.

Z did some mowing (mostly our yard and along the driveway, but also next to the corn, which is good because the western neighbors entered from that side last week and it looked terrible!) with the pushmower this weekend, and did some chisel plowing this morning while it wasn’t windy and it seemed that the rain was able to catch most of the dust. I want to get cover crops into the ground! It’s a bit early, but not if we are having an early winter (?).

This morning I made a list of the fall/winter cover crop seed that I have in the house. I tried to organize all of the seeds that are in the 2 containers, but I was there too long with T and he disorganized them. (roots, summer crops, herbs, flowers, and maybe lettuce/greens is how I organize them, with tons of packs of peas lying around, too)

Busy week in the garden!

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view of the hill and the northeast corner of the garden. You can hardly see the remains of the pile of purchased compost behind the fence.
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blurry photo from around sunset tonight. it shows the new bed of chard, cabbage, and kale 

I started transplanting the cabbage, chard, kale (and, to come, broccoli) seedlings on Monday or Tuesday. I had to take a break for a few days because it got so hot out (93 degrees, I think). I put compost out over a lot of the 2 beds I’m using because I just couldn’t stand seeing all that bare soil. Dust sometimes comes up when I walk on the paths. That’s soil erosion right there. Still considering trying out some landscape fabric and/or burlap for the paths. Just need Z to stop at our local farm supply store on the way home from work.

Z got excited about getting the potatoes we bought into the ground. It’s probably too late, and the potatoes are somewhat overgrown already, but hey, we bought them, so we have to use them. I suggested putting them between the two greens beds, since there’s so much space between them. He got started today, opening the ground with the mattock and planting like 20 feet of potatoes!

Today I planted 8 or 10 feet of Trilogy bush beans and Ashworth OP yellow corn (from Fedco). Both are organic, of course ;). I also transplanted 2 6-packs of dino kale. This morning, I didn’t have much time out there because I’d had a doctor’s appointment. I weeded and pulled  yet more runners off of the Chandler strawberries, and found 4 slugs. Yay for getting those out of the way. I saw a box elder bug today, I forget which bed it was in (not the old berries, though). At the end of the night I pulled runners out of the summer strawberries. It’s crazy in that bed!!

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the north end of the summer strawberry row. too many runners! and the weeds are/were encroaching on the bed

I’m hoping to get a new compost pile started in the next few days. I haven’t had any empty buckets for some time, and there is (or was, before the current wind storm, which seems to have broken the outdoor table in our yard!) so much debris on the ground next to the old strawberries. Probably 3 5 gallon buckets’ worth. I picked and ate a half a dozen strawberries this evening. We’ve still been getting less than a basket per night.

Someday I’d like to learn about windspeed. I grew up in a place that had hurricanes and strong winds during winter storms, and I have to say that this is not a mere 21 mile per hour wind.